Ride Across America, Day 22

Bike handle bars with directions and GPS

My handlebars with the GPS machine (for distance, time, % grade and speed), and printed directions clipped over the bars

Dear Readers,

First, Happy Mother’s Day to everyone.

Our day started with breakfast at McDonald’s due to the poor hotel with limited facilities in Aberdeen. We began riding at 7 a.m. with a slight chill in the air and morning dew on some of the plants. Our course took us over rural roads for most of the day. Several details and conditions stood out today from the usual farms and small towns that we’ve seen before. Six areas of clear cut timber were seen from the road side. (Similar to “the Barrens” in Northern Wisconsin). One expects that they would replant the area with fast growing pine for another generation of timber. An earlier spring than in Minnesota was demonstrated by the corn crop reaching up to 12 inches in height in the fields. In addition to Canadian goslings being herded by their parents in the ponds, we now see the bright red wings of Cardinals – not seen in Oklahoma and further west.

Church goers in their Sunday best were walking to their local sanctuary. Men looking dapper in suits with hat and a walking cane. Women with brightly colored, free flowing dresses and bags and hats to match. And, from a few of the churches we passed, we could hear the faint chorus of gospel music.

"Welcome to Alabama" sign spray painted on roadAt mile 19, we passed into Alabama. Much of these rural roads were forested with second growth small pine and deciduous trees. We passed by marshes. Always, we were climbing or descending hills and the scenery would change with each turn.

We passed by the beautiful Lake Lurleen and the small towns of Millport, Gordo, and Northport. A few miles after Lake Lurleen, we had reached the bedroom communities for Tuscaloosa. Now we were seeing nice homes with regularity and suburban subdivisions with their uniform house plans. Then, after commercial areas and retail malls, we reached the Black Warrior River on the edge of Tuscaloosa. The river begins in the Appalachian Highlands and ends as a tributary to Tombigbee river. The Black Warrior has a chain of locks and dams on it that provide hydroelectric power, reservoirs for drinking water, and an inland waterway.  (Wikipedia)

We had to take a small pedestrian lane on the bridge over the river. Black Warrior and Tuscaloosa are named for a famous Chieftain of the Muskogean speaking people.Pedestrain bridge across river

Finally, we reached the highlight of the day, the University of Alabama and the home of the “Crimson Tide”  (attributed to the sports writer, Hugh Roberts, in an article about the Alabama – Auburn football game from 1907). Photos of the University include the stadium and the President’s House, built in the mid-1800s and spared from destruction by the Union troops. In 1963, then Governor George Wallace stood in the front of the Administration building to prevent desegregation as two black students attempted to enroll. He was ordered to step aside by the National Guard under the direction of Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

University of Alabama sign University of Alabama stadium University of Alabama white colonial-style building

From the campus, Mike took us through side streets in route to the hotel. He pointed out remnants of the significant damage from the F4 tornado that touched down in Tuscaloosa in 2011, resulting in 44 deaths – several of them college students.

It was good to get to the hotel – it was already 82 degrees, and it had been a long day.

Tomorrow, we will travel to Prattville, 114 miles and climb 6000 feet.  Mike is proud of this ride – he lives in Prattville with his wife after he retired from the Air Force twenty plus years ago.

Tonight, put lube on the chain and head to bed.

It is the beginning of our last week.  We will end in Savannah, Georgia on Friday.

Be well,

Jeff

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